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Full text of "Poems"

Zrrjily DieK 







POEMS 



BY 



EMILY DICKINSON 



ttcli bg tfoo of fjcr JFrintiw 
MABEL LOOMIS TODD AND T. W. HIGGINSON 



BOSTON 

ROBERTS BROTHERS 
1890 



Copyright, 1890, 
BY ROBERTS BROTHERS. 



Sntbersftg gress: 
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE. 



PREFACE. 



n^HE verses of Emily Dickinson belong emphati 
cally to what Emerson long since called " the 
Poetry of the. Portfolio," something produced abso 
lutely without the thought of publication, and solely 
by way of expression of the writer's own mind. Such 
verse must inevitably forfeit whatever advantage lies 
in the discipline of public criticism and the enforced 
conformity to accepted ways. On the other hand, it 
may often gain something through the habit of free 
dom and the unconventional utterance of daring 
thoughts. In the case of the present author, there 
was absolutely no choice in the matter; she must 
write thus, or not at all. A recluse by temperament 
and habit, literally spending years without setting 
her foot beyond the doorstep, and many more years 



iv PREFACE. 

during which her walks were strictly limited to her 
father's grounds, she habitually concealed her mind, 
like her person, from all but a very few friends ; and 
it was with great difficulty that she was persuaded to 
print, during her lifetime, three or four poems. Yet 
she wrote verses in great abundance ; and though 
curiously indifferent to all conventional rules, had yet 
a rigorous literary standard of her own, and often 
altered a word many times to suit an ear which had 
its own tenacious fastidiousness. 

Miss Dickinson was born in Amherst, Mass., 
Dec. 10, 1830, and died there May 15, 1886. Her 
father, Hon. Edward Dickinson, was the leading 
lawyer of Amherst, and was treasurer of the well-known 
college there situated. It was his custom once a year 
to hold a large reception at his house, attended by all 
the families connected with the institution and by the 
leading people of the town. On these occasions his 
daughter Emily emerged from her wonted retirement 
and did her part as gracious hostess ; nor would any 
one have known from her manner, I have been told, 
that this was not a daily occurrence. The annual 



PREFACE. v 

occasion once past, she withdrew again into her 
seclusion, and except for a very few friends was as 
invisible to the world as if she had dwelt in a nunnery. 
For myself, although I had corresponded with her for 
many years, I saw her but twice face to face, and 
brought away the impression of something as unique 
and remote as Undine or Mignon or Thekla. 

This selection from her poems is published to meet 
the desire of her personal friends, and especially of 
her surviving sister. It is believed that the thought 
ful reader will find in these pages a quality more 
suggestive of the poetry of William Blake than of any 
thing to be elsewhere found, flashes of wholly origi 
nal and profound insight into nature and life ; words 
and phrases exhibiting an extraordinary vividness of 
descriptive and imaginative power, yet often set in 
a seemingly whimsical or even rugged frame. They 
are here published as they were written, with very few 
and superficial changes ; although it is fair to say that 
the titles have been assigned, almost invariably, by the 
editors. In many cases these verses will seem to the 
reader like poetry torn up by the roots, with rain and 



VI PREFACE. 

dew and earth still clinging to them, giving a fresh 
ness and a fragrance not otherwise to be conveyed. 
In other cases, as in the few poems of shipwreck or 
of mental conflict, we can only wonder at the gift of 
vivid imagination by which this recluse woman can 
delineate, by a few touches, the very crises of physical 
or mental conflict. And sometimes again we catch 
glimpses of a lyric strain, sustained perhaps but for a 
line or two at a time, and making the reader regret its 
sudden cessation. But the main quality of these 
poems is that of extraordinary grasp and insight, 
uttered with an uneven vigor sometimes exasperating, 
seemingly wayward, but really unsought and inevitable. 
After all, when a thought takes one's breath away, 
a lesson on grammar seems an impertinence. As 
Ruskin wrote in his earlier and better days, " No 
weight nor mass nor beauty of execution can out 
weigh one grain or fragment of thought." 

THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 
PREFACE iii 

PRELUDE 9 



BOOK I. LIFE. 

I. Success 13 

II. " Our share of night to bear " 14 

III. Rouge et Noir 15 

IV. Rouge gagne 10 

V. " Glee ! the great storm is over " 17 

VI. " If I can stop one heart from breaking " . . . 18 

VII. Almost 19 

VIII. " A wounded deer leaps highest " 20 

IX. " The heart asks pleasure first " 21 

X. In a Library '. . . . 22 

XL " Much madness is divinest sense " 24 

XII. " I asked no other thing " 25 



viii CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

XIII. Exclusion 26 

XIV. The Secret . 27 

XV. The Lonely House . . . . 28 

XVI. " To fight aloud is very brave " ...... 30 

XVII. Dawn 31 

XVIII. The Book of Martyrs .......... 32 

XIX. The Mystery of Pain ......'.... 33 

XX. " I taste a liquor never brewed " 34 

XXI. A Book '. . 35 

XXII. " I had no time to hate, because" 36 

XXIII. Unreturning : .-37 

XXIV. " Whether my bark went down at sea" ... 38 
XXV. " Belshazzar had a letter " 39 

XXVI. " The brain within its groove " 40 

BOOK II. LOVE. 

I. Mine . 43 

II. Bequest 44 

III. "Alter? When the hills do " . .... . . 45 

IV. Suspense 46 

V. Surrender 47 

VI. " If you were coming in the fall " 48 

VII. With a Flower 50 



CONTENTS, ix 

PAGE 

VIII. Proof 51 

IX. " Have you got a brook in your little heart ? " . 52 

X. Transplanted 53 

XI. The Outlet / 54 

XII. In vain .55 

XIII. Renunciation 58 

XIV. Love's Baptism 60 

XV. Resurrection 62 

XVI. Apocalypse 63 

XVII. The Wife 64 

XVIII. Apotheosis 65 



BOOK III. NATURE. 

I. " New feet within my garden go " . . . .* . 69 

II. Mayflower 70 

III. Why? . . . 71 

IV. " Perhaps you 'd like to buy a flower " ... 72 
V. " The pedigree of honey " 73 

VI. A Service of Song 74 

VII. " The bee is not afraid of me " . . . . . . 75 

VIII. Summer's Armies 76 

IX. The Grass 78 



x CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

X. " A little road not made of man " 80 

XI. Summer Shower 81 

XII. Psalm of the Day .......... 82 

XIII. The Sea of Sunset ....;-.;... 84 

XIV. Purple Clover . . . ...... .-. . 85 

XV. The Bee 87 

XVI. " Presentiment is that long shadow " ... 88 

XVII. " As children bid the guest good-night " . . 89 

XVIII. " Angels in the early morning " 90 

XIX. " So bashful when I spied her " 91 

XX. Two Worlds 92 

XXI. The Mountain 93 

XXII. A Day 94 

XXIII. " The butterfly's assumption-gown " . . . . 95 

XXIV. The Wind 96 

XXV. Death and Life 98 

XXVI. " 'T was later when the summer went "... 99 

XXVII. Indian Summer 100 

XXVIII. Autumn 102 

XXIX. Beclouded 103 

XXX. The Hemlock 104 

XXXI. " There 's a certain slant of light " .... 106 



CONTENTS. . XI 



BOOK IV. TIME AND ETERNITY. 

PAGE 

I. " One dignity delays for all " ..... 109 

II. Too late no 

III. Astra Castra 112 

IV. " Safe in their alabaster chambers " ... 113 
V. " On this long storm the rainbow rose " . . 114 

VI. From the chrysalis 115 

VII. Setting sail 116 

VIII. " Look back on time with kindly eyes" . . 117 

IX. "A train went through a burial gate " . . 118 

X. " I died for beauty, but was scarce " ... 119 

XL Troubled about many things 120 

XII. Real . .' . . . 121 

XIII. A Funeral 122 

XIV. " I went to thank her " 123 

XV. " I 've seen a dying eye " 124 

XVI. Refuge 125 

XVII. " I never saw a moor " 126 

XVIII. Playmates 127 

XIX. " To know just how he suffered " . . ^- 128 

XX. " The last night that she lived " .... 130 



Xii CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

XXL The First Lesson 132 

XXII. " The bustle in a house " . . 133 

XXIII. " I reason, earth is short " 134 

XXIV. " Afraid ? Of whom am I afraid ? " . . . 135 
XXV. Dying 136 

XXVI. " Two swimmers wrestled on a spar " . . 137 

XXVII. The Chariot 138 

XXVIII. " She went as quiet as the dew " .... 140 

XXIX. Resurgam 141 

XXX. " Except to heaven she is nought "... 142 

XXXI. " Death is a dialogue between " .... 143 

XXXIL " It was too late for man " 144 

XXXIII. Along the Potomac H5 

XXXIV. " The daisy follows soft the Sun ". ... 146 
XXXV. Emancipation H7 

XXXVI. Lost 148 

XXXVII. " If I should n't be alive " H9 

XXXVIII. " Sleep is supposed to be " 150 

XXXIX. " I shall know why when time is over " . . 151 

XL. " I never lost as much but twice " .... 152 



is my letter to the world, 
That never wrote to me, 
The simple news that Nature told, 
With tender majesty. 

Her message is committed 
To hands I cannot see ; 
For love of her, sweet countrymen, 
Judge tenderly of me! 



I. 

LIFE. 



POEMS. 

i. 

SUCCESS. 

[Published in " A Masque of Poets " at the request of 
H. H.," the author's fellow-townswoman and friend.] 

OUCCESS is counted sweetest 
^ By those who ne'er succeed. 
To comprehend a nectar 
Requires sorest need. 

Not one of all the purple host 
Who took the flag to-day 
Can tell the definition, 
So clear, of victory, 

As he, "defeated, dying, 
On whose forbidden ear 
The distant strains of triumph 
Break, agonized and clear. 



14 POEMS. 



II. 

share of night to bear, 
Our share of morning, 
Our blank in bliss to fill, 
Our blank in scorning. 

Here a star, and there a star, 
Some lose their way. 
Here a mist, and there a mist, 
Afterwards day ! 



POEMS. 15 

III. 
ROUGE ET NOIR. 

OOUL, wilt thou toss again? 
^ By just such a hazard 
Hundreds have lost, indeed, 
But tens have won an all. 

Angels' breathless ballot 
Lingers to record thee ; 
Imps in eager caucus 
Raffle for my soul. 



1 6 POEMS. 

IV. 

ROUGE GAGNE. 

"T* IS so much joy ! 'T is so much joy ! 

^ If I should fail, what poverty ! 
And yet, as poor as I 
Have ventured all upon a throw ; 
Have gained ! Yes ! Hesitated so 
This side the victory ! 

Life is but life, and death but death ! 
Bliss is but bliss, and breath but breath ! 
And if, indeed, I fail, 
At least to know the worst is sweet. 
Defeat means nothing but defeat, 
No drearier can prevail ! 

And if I gain, oh, gun at sea, 
Oh. bells that in the steeples be, 
At first repeat it slow ! 
For heaven is a different thing 
Conjectured, and waked sudden in, 
And might o'erwhelm me so ! 



POEMS. 



V. 



LEE ! the great storm is over ! 

Four have recovered the land ; 
Forty gone down together 
Into the boiling sand. 

Ring, for the scant salvation ! 
Toll, for the bonnie souls, 
Neighbor and friend and bridegroom, 
Spinning upon the shoals ! 

How they will tell the shipwreck 
When winter shakes the door, 
Till the children ask, " But the forty ? 
Did they come back no more? " 

Then a silence suffuses the story, 
And a softness the teller's eye ; 
And the children no further question, 
And only the waves reply. 



1 8 POEMS. 



VI. 

T F I can stop one heart from breaking, 

* I shall not live in vain ; 

If I can ease one life the aching, 

Or cool one pain, 

Or help one fainting robin 

Unto his nest again, 

I shall not live in vain. 



POEMS. 19 



VII. 

ALMOST ! 

VX7ITHIN my reach ! 

* * I could have touched ! 
I might have chanced that way ! 
Soft sauntered through the village, 
Sauntered as soft away ! 
So unsuspected violets 
Within the fields lie low/ 
Too late for striving fingers 
That passed, an hour ago. 



20 POEMS. 



VIII. 

A WOUNDED deer leaps highest, 
*"* I Ve heard the hunter tell ; 
'T is but the ecstasy of death, 
And then the brake is still. 

The smitten rock that gushes, 
The trampled steel that springs : 
A cheek is always redder 
Just where the hectic stings ! 

Mirth is the mail of anguish, 
In which it cautions arm, 
Lest anybody spy the blood 
And "You 're hurt " exclaim ! 



POEMS. 21 



IX. 

HE heart asks pleasure first, 

And then, excuse from pain 
And then, those little anodynes 
That deaden suffering ; 

And then, to go to sleep ; 
And then, if it should be 
The will of its Inquisitor, 
The liberty to die. 



22 POEMS. 

X. 

IN A LIBRARY. 

A PRECIOUS, mouldering pleasure 't is 
^ To meet an antique book, 
In just the dress his. century wore ; 
A privilege, I think, 

His venerable hand to take, 
And warming in our own, 
A passage back, or two, to make 
To times when he was young. 

His quaint opinions to inspect, 
His knowledge to unfold 
On what concerns our mutual mind, 
The literature of old ; 

What interested scholars most, 
What competitions ran 
When Plato was a certainty, 
And Sophocles a man ; 



POEMS. 23 

When Sappho was a living girl, 
And Beatrice wore 
The gown that Dante deified. 
Facts, centuries before, 

He traverses familiar, 

As one should come to town 

And tell you all your dreams were true : 

He lived where dreams were sown. 

His presence is enchantment, 

You beg him not to go ; 

Old volumes shake their vellum heads 

And tantalize, just so. 



24 POEMS. 



XL 

1V/T UCH madness is divinest sense 

To a discerning eye ; 
Much sense the starkest madness. 
'Tis the majority 
In this, as all, prevails. 
Assent, and you are sane ; 
Demur, you 're straightway dangerous, 
And handled with a chain. 



POEMS. 25 



XII. 

T ASKED no other thing, 
-* No other was denied. 
I offered Being for it ; 
The mighty merchant smiled. 

Brazil? He twirled a button, 
Without a glance my way : 
" But, madam, is there nothing else 
That we can show to-day? " 



26 POEMS. 

XIII. 

EXCLUSION. 

/ ~PHE soul selects her own society, 
A Then shuts the door ; 
On her divine majority 
Obtrude no more. 

Unmoved, she notes the chariot's pausing 
At her low gate ; 

Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling 
Upon her mat. 

I 've known her from an ample nation 
Choose one ; 

Then close the valves of her attention 
Like stone. 



POEMS. 27 



XIV. 

THE SECRET. 

OME things that fly there be, 
Birds, hours, the bumble-bee : 
Of these no elegy. 

Some things that stay there be, 
Grief, hills, eternity : 
Nor this behooveth me. 

There are, that resting, rise. 
Can I expound the skies ? 
How still the riddle lies ! 



I 



28 POEMS. 



XV. 
THE LONELY HOUSE. 

KNOW some lonely houses off the road 

A robber 'd like the look of, 
Wooden barred, 
And windows hanging low, 
Inviting to 
A portico, 

Where two could creep : 
One hand the tools, 
The other peep 
To make sure all 's asleep. 
Old-fashioned eyes, 
Not easy to surprise ! 

How orderly the kitchen 'd look by night, 

With just a clock, 

But they could gag the tick, 

And mice won't bark ; 

And so the walls don't tell, 

None will. 



POEMS. 29 



A pair of spectacles afar just stir 

An almanac 's aware. 

Was it the mat winked, 

Or a nervous sta.r? 

The moon slides down the stair 

To see who 's there. 

There 's plunder, where ? 
Tankard, or spoon, 
Earring, or stone, 
A watch, some ancient brooch 
To match the grandmamma,. 
Staid sleeping there. 

Day rattles, too, 

Stealth 's slow ; 

The sun has got as far 

As the third sycamore. 

Screams chanticleer, 

"Who's there?" 

And echoes, trains away, 

Sneer "Where?" 

While the old couple, just astir, 

Fancy the sunrise left the door ajar ! 



3 POEMS. 



XVI. 

/ "T S O fight aloud is very brave, 
* But gallanter, I know, 
Who charge within the bosom, 
The cavalry of woe. 

Who win, and nations do not see, 
Who fall, and none observe, 
Whose dying eyes no country 
Regards with patriot love. 

We trust, in plumed procession, 
For such the angels go, 
Rank after rank, with even feet 
And uniforms of snow. 



POEMS. 31 



XVII. 
DAWN. 

TX 7HEN night is almost done, 
" * And sunrise grows so near 
That we can touch the spaces, 
It 's time to smooth the hair 

And get the dimples ready, 
And wonder we could care 
For that old faded midnight 
That frightened but an hour. 



32 POEMS. 



XVIII. 
THE BOOK OF MARTYRS. 

T3 EAD, sweet, how others strove, 

** Till we are stouter ; 

What they renounced, 

Till we are less afraid ; 

How many times they bore 

The faithful witness, 

Till we are helped, 

As if a kingdom cared ! 

Read then of faith 
That shone above the fagot ; 
Clear strains of hymn 
The river could not drown ; 
Brave names of men 
And celestial women, 
Passed out of record 
Into renown ! 



POEMS. 33 



XIX. 
THE MYSTERY OF PAIN. 



has an element of blank ; 
It cannot recollect 
When it began, or if there were 
A day when it was not. 

It has no future but itself, 
Its infinite realms contain 
Its past, enlightened to perceive 
New periods of pain. 



34 POEMS. 



XX. 

T TASTE a liquor never brewed, 
-* From tankards scooped in pearl ; 
Not all the vats upon the Rhine 
Yield such an alcohol ! 

Inebriate of air am I, 

And debauchee of dew, 

Reeling, through endless summer days, 

From inns of molten blue. 

When landlords turn the drunken bee 
Out of the foxglove's door, 
When butterflies renounce their drams, 
I shall but drink the more ! 

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats, 
And saints to windows run, 
To see the little tippler 
Leaning against the sun ! 



POEMS. 35 



XXI. 
A BOOK. 

T T E ate and drank the precious words, 

* His spirit grew robust ; 

He knew no more that he was poor, 

Nor that his frame was dust. 

He danced along the dingy days, 

And this bequest of wings 

Was but a book. What liberty 

A loosened spirit brings ! 



36 POEMS. 



XXII. 

T HAD no time to hate, because 
The grave would hinder me, 
And life was not so ample I 
Could finish enmity. 

Nor had I time to love ; but since 
Some industry must be, 
The little toil of love, I thought, 
Was large enough for me. 



POEMS. 



XXIII. 
UNRETURNING. 

3 HP WAS such a little, little boat 

That toddled down the bay ! 
'T was such a gallant, gallant sea 
That beckoned it away ! 

'T was such a greedy, greedy wave 
That licked it from the coast ; 
Nor ever guessed the stately sails 
My little craft was lost ! 



38 POEMS. 



XXIV. 



T \ 7 H ETHER my bark went down at sea, 

* * Whether she met with gales, 
Whether to isles enchanted 
She bent her docile sails ; 

By what mystic mooring 
She is held to-day, 
This is the errand of the eye 
Out upon the bay. 



POEMS. 39 



XXV. 

T3ELSHAZZAR had a letter, 
" He never had but one ; 
Belshazzar's correspondent 
Concluded and begun 
In that immortal copy 
The conscience of us all 
Can read without its glasses 
On revelation's wall. 



40 POEMS. 



XXVI. 

HP HE brain within its groove 

Runs evenly and true ; 
But let a splinter swerve, . 
'T were easier for you 
To put the water back 
When floods have slit the hills, 
And s,cooped a turnpike for themselves, 
And blotted out the mills ! 



II. 

LOVE. 



POEMS. 43 

I. 
MINE. 

TV/T INE by the right of the white election ! 
*** Mine by the royal seal ! 
Mine by the sign in the scarlet prison 
Bars cannot conceal ! 

Mine, here in vision and in veto ! 
Mine, by the grave's repeal 
Titled, confirmed, delirious charter ! 
Mine, while the ages steal ! 



44 POEMS. 



II. 
BEQUEST. 

left me, sweet, two legacies, 
A legacy of love 
A Heavenly Father would content, 
Had He the offer of ; 

You left me boundaries of pain 
Capacious as the sea, 
Between eternity and time, 
Your consciousness and me. 



POEMS. 45 



III. 



A LTER? When the hills do. 
" Falter? When the sun 
Question if his glory 
Be the perfect one. 



Surfeit ? When the daffodil 
Doth of the dew : 
Even as herself, O friend 1 
I will of you ! 



46 POEMS. 



SUSPENSE. 

LYSIUM is as far as to 

The very nearest room, 
If in that room a friend await 
Felicity or doom. 

What fortitude the soul contains, 
That it can so endure 
The accent of a coming foot, 
The opening of a door ! 



POEMS. 47 

V. 
SURRENDER. 

"T^OUBT me, my dim companion ! 
*-^ Why, God would be content 
With but a fraction of the love 
Poured thee without a stint. 
The whole of me, forever, 
What more the woman can, 
Say quick, that I may dower thee 
With last delight I own ! 

It cannot be my spirit, 
For that was thine before ; 
I ceded all of dust I knew, 
What opulence the more 
Had I, a humble maiden, 
Whose farthest of degree 
Was that she might, 
Some distant heaven, 
Dwell timidly with thee ! 



43 POEMS. 



VI. 

T F you were coming in the fall, 

I'd brush the summer by 
With half a smile and half a spurn, 
As housewives do a fly. 

If I could see you in a year, 

I 'd wind the months in balls, 

And put them each in separate drawers, 

Until their time befalls. 

If only centuries delayed, 
I 'd count them on my hand, 
Subtracting till my fingers dropped 
Into Van Diemen's land. 

If certain, when this life was out, 
That yours and mine should be, 
I 'd toss it yonder like a rind, 
And taste eternity. 



POEMS 49 

But now, all ignorant of the length 
Of time's uncertain wing, 
It goads me, like the goblin bee, 
That will not state its sting, 



5 POEMS. 



VII. 
WITH A FLOWER. 

T HIDE myself within my flower, 

That wearing on your breast, 
You, unsuspecting, wear me too 
And angels know the rest. 

I hide myself within my flower, 
That, fading from your vase, 
You, unsuspecting, feel for me 
Almost a loneliness. 



POEMS. 51 



VIII. 
PROOF. 



HP HAT I did always love, 

I bring thee proof: 
That till I loved 
I did not love enough. 

That I shall love alway, 

I offer thee 

That love is life, 

And life hath immortality. 

This, dost thou doubt, sweet ? 
Then have I 
Nothing to show 
But Calvary. 



5 2 POEMS. 



IX. 



TT AVE you got a brook in your little heart, 

Where bashful flowers blow, 
And blushing birds go down to drink, 
And shadows tremble so? 

And nobody knows, so still it flows, 
That any brook is there ; 
And yet your little draught of life 
Is daily drunken there. 

Then look out for the little brook in March, 
When the rivers overflow, 
And the snows come hurrying from the hills, 
And the bridges often go. 

And later, in August it may be, 
When the meadows parching lie, 
Beware, lest this little brook of life 
Some burning noon go dry ! 



POEMS. 5 3 

X. 

TRANSPLANTED. 

A S if some little Arctic flower, 
'** Upon the polar hem, 
Went wandering down the latitudes, 
Until it puzzled came 
To continents of summer, 
To firmaments of sun, 
To strange, bright crowds of flowers, 
And birds of foreign tongue ! 
I say, as if this little flower 
To Eden wandered in 
What then? Why, nothing, 
Only, your inference therefrom ! 



54 POEMS. 

XL 
THE OUTLET. 



Y river runs to thee : 

Blue sea, wilt welcome me ? 



My river waits reply. 
Oh sea, look graciously ! 

I'll fetch thee brooks 
From spotted nooks, 

Say, sea, take me ! 



POEMS. 5 5 

XII. 
IN VAIN. 



T CANNOT live with you, 
* It would be life, 
And life is over there * 
Behind the shelf 

The sexton keeps the key to, 
Putting up 

Our life, his porcelain, 
Like a cup 

Discarded of the housewife, 
Quaint or broken ; 
A newer Sevres pleases, 
Old ones crack. 

I could not die with you, 
For one must wait 
To shut the other's gaze down, 
You could not. 



56 POEMS. 

And I, could I stand by 
And see you freeze, 
Without my right of frost, 
Death's privilege? 

Nor could I rise with you, 
Because your face 
Would put out Jesus', 
That new grace 

Glow plain and foreign 
On my homesick eye, 
Except that you, than he 
Shone closer by. 

They 'd judge us how ? 

For you served Heaven, you know, 

Or sought to ; 

I could not, 

Because you saturated sight, 
And I had no more eyes 
For sordid excellence 
As Paradise. 



POEMS. 57 



And were you lost, I would be, 

Though my name 

Rang loudest 

On the heavenly fame. 

And were you saved, 
And I condemned to be 
Where you were not, 
That self were hell to me. 

So we must keep apart, 

You there, I here, 

With just the door ajar . 

That oceans are, 

And prayer, 

And that pale sustenance, 

Despair ! 



5 8 POEMS. 

XIII. 
RENUNCIATION. 

'"THERE came a day at summer's full 
*- Entirely for me ; 
I thought that such were for the saints, 
Where revelations be. 

The sun, as common, went abroad, 
The flowers, accustomed, blew, 
As if no soul the solstice passed 
That maketh all things new. 

The time was scarce profaned by speech ; 

The symbol of a word 

Was needless, as at sacrament 

The wardrobe of our Lord. 

Each was to each the sealed church, 
Permitted to commune this time, 
Lest we too awkward show 
At supper of the Lamb. 



POEMS. 59 

The hours slid fast, as hours will, 
Clutched tight by greedy hands ; 
So faces on two decks look back, 
Bound to opposing lands. 

And so, when all the time had failed, 
Without external sound, 
Each bound the other's crucifix, 
We gave no other bond. 

Sufficient troth that we shall rise 
Deposed, at length, the grave 
To that new marriage, justified 
Through Calvaries of Love ! 



60 POEMS. 



XIV. 
LOVE'S BAPTISM. 

T 'M ceded, I Ve stopped being theirs ; 

A The name they dropped upon my face 

With water, in the country church, 

Is finished using now, 

And they can put it with my dolls, 

My childhood, and the string of spools 

I Ve finished threading too. 

Baptized before without the choice, 

But this time consciously, of grace 

Unto supremest name, 

Called to my full, the crescent dropped, 

Existence's whole arc filled up 

With one small diadem. 

My second rank, too small the first, 
Crowned, crowing on my father's breast, 



POEMS. 6 1 

A half unconscious queen ; 
But this time, adequate, erect, 
With will to choose or to reject, 
And I choose just a throne. 



62 POEMS. 

XV. 

RESURRECTION. 

"~P WAS a long parting, but the time 

For interview had come ; 
Before the judgment-seat of God, 
The last and second time 

These fleshless lovers met, 

A heaven in a gaze, 

A heaven of heavens, the privilege 

Of one another's eyes. 

"No lifetime set on them, 
Apparelled as the new 
Unborn, except they had beheld, 
Born everlasting now. 

Was bridal e'er like this ? 
A paradise, the host, 
And cherubim and seraphim 
The most familiar guest. 



POEMS. 63 

XVI. 
APOCALYPSE. 

T 'M wife ; I Ve finished that, 
" That other state ; 
I 'm Czar, I 'm woman now : 
It 's safer so. 

How odd the girl's life looks 
Behind this soft eclipse ! 
I think that earth seems so 
To those in heaven now. 

This being comfort, then 
That other kind was pain ; 
But why compare ? 
I 'm wife ! stop there ! 



64 POEMS. 

XVII. 
THE WIFE. 

OHE rose to his requirement, dropped 
^ The playthings of her life 
To take the honorable work 
Of woman and of wife. 

If aught she missed in her new day 
Of amplitude, or awe, 
Or first prospective, or the gold 
In using wore away, 

It lay unmentioned, as the sea 
Develops pearl and weed, 
But only to himself is known 
The fathoms they abide. 



POEMS. 65 



XVIII. 
APOTHEOSIS. 



slowly, Eden! 
^- / Lips unused to thee, 
Bashful, sip thy jasmines, 
As the fainting bee, 

Reaching late his flower, 
Round her chamber hums, 
Counts his nectars enters, 
And is lost in balms ! 



III. 

NATURE. 



POEMS.^ 69 



I. 



TVT EW feet within my garden go, 

New fingers stir the sod ; 
A troubadour upon the elm 
Betrays the solitude. 

New children play upon the green, 
New weary sleep below ; 
And still the pensive spring returns, 
And still the punctual snow ! 



yo POEMS. 

II. 
MAY-FLOWER. 

"pINK, small, and punctual, 
* Aromatic, low, 
Covert in April, 
Candid in May, 

Dear to the moss, 
Known by the knoll, 
Next to the robin 
In every human soul. 

Bold little beauty, 
Bedecked with thee, 
Nature forswears 
Antiquity. 



POEMS. 7 1 

III.' 
WHY? 

'"PHE murmur of a bee 
* A witchcraft yieldeth me. 
If any ask me why, 
'Twere easier to die 
Than tell. 

The red upon the hill 
Taketh away my will ; 
If anybody sneer, 
Take care, for God is here, 
That 'sail. 

The breaking of the day 
Addeth to my degree ; 
If any ask me how, 
Artist, who drew me so, 
Must tell ! 



72 POEMS. 



IV. 



J3ERHAPS you 'd like to buy a flower? 
^ But I could never sell. 
If you would like to borrow 
Until the daffodil 



Unties her yellow bonnet 
Beneath the village door, 
Until the bees, from clover rows 
Their hock and sherry draw, 

Why, I will lend until just then, 
But not an hour more ! 



POEMS. 



73 



V. 



'""PHE pedigree of honey 
A Does not concern the bee ; 
A clover, any time, to him 
Is aristocracy. 



74 POEMS. 

VI. 
A SERVICE OF SONG. 

OME keep the Sabbath going to church ; 
^ I keep it staying at home, 

With a bobolink for a chorister, 
And an orchard for a dome. 

Some keep the Sabbath in surplice ; 

1 just wear my wings, 

And instead of tolling the bell for church, 
Our little sexton sings. 

God preaches, a noted clergyman, 
And the sermon is never long ; 
So instead of getting to heaven at last, 
I 'm going all along ! 



POEMS. 75 



VII. 

/ "PHE bee is not afraid of me, 
* I know the butterfly ; 
The pretty people in the woods 
Receive me cordially. 

The brooks laugh louder when I come, 
The breezes madder play. 
Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists ? 
Wherefore, O summer's day? 



76 POEMS. 



VIII. 
SUMMER'S ARMIES. 

OME rainbow coming from the fair ! 
Some vision of the world Cashmere 
I confidently see ! 
Or else a peacock's purple train, 
Feather by feather, on the plain 
Fritters itself away ! 

The dreamy butterflies bestir, 
Lethargic pools resume the whir 
Of last year's sundered tune. 
From some old fortress on the sun 
Baronial bees march, one by one, 
In murmuring platoon ! 

The robins stand as thick to-day 
As flakes of snow stood yesterday, 



POEMS. 77 

On fence and roof and twig. 
The orchis binds her feather on 
For her old lover, Don the Sun, 
Revisiting the bog ! 

Without commander, countless, still, 

The regiment of wood and hill 

In bright detachment stand. 

Behold ! Whose multitudes are these ? 

The children of whose turbaned seas, 

Or what Circassian land ? 



78 POEMS. 



IX. 
THE GRASS. 

grass so little has to do, 
A sphere of simple green, 
With only butterflies to brood, 
And bees to entertain, 

And stir all day to pretty tunes 
The breezes fetch along, 
And hold the sunshine in its lap 
And bow to everything ; 

And thread the dews all night, like pearls, 
And make itself so fine, 
A duchess were too common 
For such a noticing. 



POEMS. 79 

And even when it dies, to pass 
In odors so divine, 
As lowly spices gone to sleep, 
Or amulets of pine. 

And then to dwell in sovereign barns, 
And dream the days away, 
The grass so little has to do, 
I wish I were the hay ! 



8o POEMS. 



X. 



A LITTLE road not made of man, 
** Enabled of the eye, 
Accessible to thill of bee, 
Or cart of butterfly. 

If town it have, beyond itself, 
'T is that I cannot say ; 
I only sigh, no vehicle 
Bears me along that way. 



POEMS. 8 1 

XI. 
SUMMER SHOWER. 

A DROP fell on the apple tree, 
^* Another on the roof; 
A half a dozen kissed the eaves, 
And made the gables laugh. 

A few went out to help the brook, 
That went to help the sea. 
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls, 
What necklaces could be ! 

The dust replaced in hoisted roads, 
The birds jocoser sung ; 
The sunshine threw his hat away, 
The orchards spangles hung. 

The breezes brought dejected lutes, 
And bathed them in the glee ; 
The East put out a single flag, 
And signed the fete away. 
6 



82 POEMS. 



XII. 
PSALM OF THE DAY. 

A SOMETHING in a summer's day, 
** As slow her flambeaux burn away, 
Which solemnizes me. 

A something in a summer's noon, 
An azure depth, a wordless tune, 
Transcending ecstasy. 

And still within a summer's night 
A something so transporting bright, 
I clap my hands to see ; 

Then veil my too inspecting face, 
Lest such a subtle, shimmering grace 
Flutter too far for me. 

The wizard- fingers never rest, 
The purple brook within the breast 
Still chafes its narrow bed ; 



POEMS. 83 

Still rears the East her amber flag, 
Guides still the sun along the crag 
His caravan of red, 

Like flowers that heard the tale of dews, 
But never deemed the dripping prize 
Awaited their low brows ; 

Or bees, that thought the summer's name 
Some rumor of delirium 
No summer could for them ; 

Or Arctic creature, dimly stirred 

By tropic hint, some travelled bird 

Imported to the wood ; 

Or wind's bright signal to the ear, 
Making that homely and severe, 
Contented, known, before 

The heaven unexpected came, 

To lives that thought their worshipping 

A too presumptuous psalm. 



84 POEMS. 



XIII. 
THE SEA OF SUNSET. 

HP HIS is the land the sunset washes, 
^ These are the banks of the Yellow Sea ; 
Where it rose, or whither it rushes, 
These are the western mystery ! 

Night after night her purple traffic 
Strews the landing with opal bales ; 
Merchantmen poise upon horizons, 
Dip, and vanish with fairy sails. 



POEMS. 85 

. 'XIV. 
PURPLE CLOVER. 

HP HERE is a flower that bees prefer, 
* And butterflies desire ; . 
To gain the purple democrat 
The humming-birds aspire. 

And whatsoever insect pass, 
A honey bears away 
Proportioned to his several dearth 
And her capacity. 

Her face is rounder than the moon, 
And ruddier than the gown 
Of orchis in the pasture, 
Or rhododendron worn. 

She doth not wait for June ; 
Before the world is green 
Her sturdy little countenance 
Against the wind is seen, 



86 POEMS. 

Contending with the grass, 
Near kinsman to herself, 
For privilege of sod and sun, 
Sweet litigants for life. 

And when the hills are full, 
And newer fashions blow, 
Doth not retract a single spice 
For pang of jealousy. 

Her public is the noon, 

Her providence the sun, 

Her progress by the bee proclaimed 

In sovereign, swerveless tune. 

The bravest of the host, 
Surrendering the last, 
Nor even of defeat aware 
When cancelled by the frost. 



POEMS. 87 

XV. 

THE BEE. 

T IKE trains of cars on tracks of plush 
*** I hear the level bee : 
A jar across the flowers goes, 
Their velvet masonry 

Withstands until the sweet assault 
Their chivalry consumes, 
While he, victorious, tilts away 
To vanquish other blooms. 

His feet are shod with gauze, 
His helmet is of gold ; 
His breast, a single onyx 
With chrysoprase, inlaid. 

His labor is a chant, 
His idleness a tune ; 
Oh, for a bee's experience 
Of clovers and of noon ! 



88 POEMS. 



XVI. 



PRESENTIMENT is that long shadow on the lawn 

Indicative that suns go down ; 
The notice to the startled grass 
That darkness is about to pass. 



POEMS. 89 



. XVII. 

A S children bid the guest good-night, 
** And then reluctant turn, 
My flowers raise their pretty lips, 
Then put their nightgowns on. 

As children caper when they wake, 
Merry that it is morn, 
My flowers from a hundred cribs 
Will peep, and prance again. 



90 POEMS. 



XVIII. 

A NGELS in the early morning 
^*- May be seen the dews among, 
Stooping, plucking, smiling, flying : 
Do the buds to them belong? 

Angels when the sun is hottest 
May be seen the sands among, 
Stooping, plucking, sighing, flying ; 
Parched the flowers they bear along. 



POEMS. 91 



XIX. 

OO bashful when I spied her, 
*-* So pretty, so ashamed ! 
So hidden in her leaflets, 
Lest anybody find ; 

So breathless till I passed her, 
So helpless when I turned 
And bore her, struggling, blushing, 
Her simple haunts beyond ! 

For whom I robbed the dingle, 
For whom betrayed the dell, 
Many will doubtless ask me, 
But I shall never tell ! 



92 POEMS. 



XX. 

TWO WORLDS. 

T T makes no difference abroad, 
* The seasons fit the same, 
The mornings blossom into noons, 
And split their pods of flame. 

Wild-flowers kindle in the woods, 
The brooks brag all the day ; 
No blackbird bates his jargoning 
For passing Calvary. 

Auto-da-fe and judgment 
Are nothing to the bee ; 
His separation from his rose 
To him seems misery. 



POEMS. 93 



XXI. 
THE MOUNTAIN. 

H^HE mountain sat upon the plain 

In his eternal chair, 
His observation omnifold, 
His inquest everywhere. 

The seasons prayed around his knees, 
Like children round a sire : 
Grandfather of the days is he, 
Of dawn the ancestor. 



94 POEMS. 

XXII. 
A DAY. 

T 'LL tell you how the sun rose, 

A ribbon at a time. 
The steeples swam in amethyst, 
The news like squirrels ran. 

The hills untied their bonnets, 
The bobolinks begun. 
Then I said softly to myself, 
" That must have been the sun ! " 

But how he set, I know not. 
There seemed a purple stile 
Which little yellow boys and girls 
Were climbing all the while 

Till when they reached the other side, 
A dominie in gray 
Put gently up the evening bars, 
And led the flock away. 



POEMS. 95 



T 



XXIII. 

HE butterfly's assumption -gown, 

In chrysoprase apartments hung, 
This afternoon put on. 



How condescending to descend, 
And be of buttercups the friend 
In a New England town ! 



96 POEMS. 

XXIV. 
THE WIND. 

C\$ all the sounds despatched abroad, 
^^ There 's not a charge to me 
Like that old measure in the boughs, 
That phraseless melody 

The wind does, working like a hand 
Whose fingers brush the sky, 
Then quiver down, with tufts of tune 
Permitted gods and me. 

When winds go round and round in bands, 
And thrum upon the door, 
And birds take places overhead, 
To bear them orchestra, 

I crave him grace, of summer boughs, 
If such an outcast be, 
He never heard that fleshless chant 
Rise solemn in the tree, 



POEMS. 97 



As if some caravan of sound 
On deserts, in the sky, 
Had broken rank, 
Then knit, and passed 
In seamless company. 



7 



98 POEMS. 



XXV. 

DEATH AND LIFE. 

A PPARENTLY with no surprise 
*^ To any happy flower, 
The frost beheads it at its play 
In accidental power. 
The blond assassin passes on, 
The sun proceeds unmoved 
To measure off another day 
For an approving God. 



POEMS. 99 



XXVI. 

WAS later when the summer went 
* Than when the cricket came, 
And yet we knew that gentle clock 
Meant nought but going home. 

' T was sooner when the cricket went 
Than when the winter came, 
Yet that pathetic pendulum 
Keeps esoteric time. 



ioo POEMS. 



XXVII. 
INDIAN SUMMER. 

are the days when birds come back, 
ry few, a bird 
To take a backward look. 



* A very few, a bird or two, 



These are the days when skies put on 
The old, old sophistries of June, 
A blue and gold mistake. 

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee. 
Almost thy plausibility 
Induces my belief, 

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear, 
And softly through the altered air 
Hurries a timid leaf ! 



POEMS. 101 



Oh, sacrament of summer days, 
Oh, last communion in the haze, 
Permit a child to join, 

Thy sacred emblems to partake, 
Thy consecrated bread to break, 
Taste thine immortal wine ! 



102 POEMS. 



XXVIII. 
AUTUMN. 



'""PHE morns are meeker than they were, 
* The nuts are getting brown ; 
The berry's cheek is plumper, 
The rose is out of town. 



The maple wears a gayer scarf, 
The field a scarlet gown. 
Lest I should be old-fashioned, 
I '11 put a trinket on. 



POEMS. 103 



XXIX. 

BECLOUDED. 

sky is low, the clouds are mean, 
A travelling flake of snow 
Across a barn or through a rut 
Debates if it will go. 

A narrow wind complains all day 
How some one treated him j 
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught 
Without her diadem. 



104 POEMS. 



XXX. 
THE HEMLOCK. 

T THINK the hemlock likes to stand 

Upon a marge of snow ; 
It suits his own austerity, 
And satisfies an awe 

That men must slake in wilderness, 
Or in the desert cloy, 
An instinct for the hoar, the bald, 
Lapland's necessity. 

The hemlock's nature thrives on cold ; 
The gnash of northern winds 
Is sweetest nutriment to him, 
His best Norwegian wines. 



POEMS. 105 



To satin races he is nought ; 
But children on the Don 
Beneath his tabernacles play, 
And Dnieper wrestlers run. 



106 POEMS. 



XXXI. 

*~T HERE 'S a certain slant of light, 

On winter afternoons, 
That oppresses, like the weight 
Of cathedral tunes. 

Heavenly hurt it gives us ; 
We can find no scar, 
But internal difference 
Where the meanings are. 

None may teach it anything, 
' T is the seal, despair, 
An imperial affliction 
Sent us of the air. 

When it comes, the landscape listens, 
Shadows hold their breath ; 
When it goes, 't is like the distance 
On the look of death. 



IV. 



TIME AND ETERNITY. 



POEMS. 109 



I. 



E dignity delays for all, 
One mitred afternoon. 

None can avoid this purple, 

None evade this crown. 

Coach it insures, and footmen, 
Chamber and state and throng ; 
Bells, also, in the village, 
As we ride grand along. 

What dignified attendants, 
What service when we pause ! 
How loyally at parting 
Their hundred hats they raise ! 

How pomp surpassing ermine, 
When simple you and I 
Present our meek escutcheon, 
And claim the rank to die ! 



no POEMS. 



II. 
TOO LATE. 

""pvELAYED till she had ceased to know, 
^"^ Delayed till in its vest of snow 

Her loving bosom lay. 
An hour behind the fleeting breath, 
Later by just an hour than death, 

Oh, lagging yesterday ! 

Could she have guessed that it would be ; 
Could but a crier of the glee 

Have climbed the distant hill ; 
Had not the bliss so slow a pace, 
Who knows but this surrendered face 

Were undefeated still? 



POEMS. 

Oh, if there may departing be 
Any forgot by victory 

In her imperial round, 
Show them this meek apparelled thing, 
That could not stop to be a king, 

Doubtful if it be crowned ! 



1 1 2 POEMS. 



III. 
ASTRA CASTRA. 

T^EPARTED to the judgment, 
"-^ A mighty afternoon ; 
Great clouds like ushers leaning, 
Creation looking on. 

The flesh surrendered, cancelled, 
The bodiless begun ; 
Two worlds, like audiences, disperse 
And leave the soul alone. 



POEMS. 113 



IV. 



AFE in their alabaster chambers, 

Untouched by morning and untouched by noon, 
Sleep the meek members of the resurrection, 
Rafter of satin, and roof of stone. 

Light laughs the breeze in her castle of sunshine ; 
Babbles the bee in a stolid ear ; 
Pipe the sweet birds in ignorant cadence, 
Ah, what sagacity perished here ! 

Grand go the years in the crescent above them ; 
Worlds scoop their arcs, and firmaments row, 
Diadems drop and Doges surrender, 
Soundless as dots on a disk of snow. 



H4 POEMS. 



V. 



this long storm the rainbow rose, 
On this late morn the sun ; 

The clouds, like listless elephants, 

Horizons straggled down. 

The birds rose smiling in their nests, 
The gales indeed were done ; 
Alas ! how heedless were the eyes 
.On whom the summer shone ! 

The quiet nonchalance of death 
No daybreak can bestir ; 
The s.low archangel's syllables 
Must awaken her. 



POEMS. 115 



VI. 
FROM THE CHRYSALIS. 

JV/T Y cocoon tightens, colors tease, 

I 'm feeling for the air ; 
A dim capacity for wings 
Degrades the dress I wear. 

A power of butterfly must be 
The aptitude to fly, 
Meadows of majesty concedes 
And easy sweeps of sky. 

So I must baffle at the hint 
And cipher at the sign, 
And make much blunder, if at last 
I take the clew divine. 



n6 POEMS. 



VII. 
SETTING SAIL. 

"PXULTATION is the going 
*--' Of an inland soul to sea, 
Past the houses, past the headlands, 
Into deep eternity ! 

Bred as we, among the mountains, 

Can the sailor understand 

The divine intoxication 

Of the first league out from land ? 



POEMS. 117 



VIII. 

T OOK back on time with kindly eyes, 
* ' He doubtless did his best ; 
How softly sinks his trembling sun 
In human nature's west ! 



n8 POEMS. 



IX. 



A TRAIN went through a burial gate, 
^"^ A bird broke forth and sang, 
And trilled, and quivered, and shook his throat 
Till all the churchyard rang ; 

And then adjusted his little notes, 
And bowed and sang again. 
Doubtless, he thought it meet of him 
To say good-by to men. 



POEMS. 119 



X. 



T DIED for beauty, but was scarce 

Adjusted in the tomb, 
When one who died for truth was lain 
In an adjoining room. 

He questioned softly why I failed ? 
" For beauty," I replied. 
" And I for truth, the two are one ; 
We brethren are," he said. 

And so, as kinsmen met a night, 
We talked between the rooms, 
Until the moss had reached our lips, 
And covered up our names. 



120 POEMS, 



XL 

"TROUBLED ABOUT MANY THINGS." 

T T OW many times these low feet staggered, 

Only the soldered mouth can tell ; 
Try ! can you stir the awful rivet ? 
Try ! can you lift the hasps of steel ? 

Stroke the cool forehead, hot so often, 
Lift, if you can, the listless hair ; 
Handle the adamantine fingers 
Never a thimble more shall wear. 

Buzz the dull flies on the chamber window ; 
Brave shines the sun through the freckled pane ; 
Fearless the cobweb swings from the ceiling 
Indolent housewife, in daisies lain ! 



POEMS. 121 



XII. 
REAL. 

T LIKE a look of agony, 

Because I know it 's true ; 
Men do not sham convulsion, 
Nor simulate a throe. 

The eyes glaze once, and that is death. 

Impossible to feign 

The beads upon the forehead 

By homely anguish strung. 



122 POEMS. 



XIII. 
THE FUNERAL. 



n^HAT short, potential stir 

That each can make but once, 
That bustle so illustrious 
'T is almost consequence, 

Is the eclat of death. 
Oh, thou unknown renown 
That not a beggar would accept, 
Had he the power to spurn ! 



POEMS. 123 



XIV. 

T WENT to thank her, 

-* But she slept ; 

Her bed a funnelled stone, 

With nosegays at the head and foot, 

That travellers had thrown, 

Who went to thank her ; 
But she slept. 

'T was short to cross the sea 
To look upon her like, alive, 
But turning back 't was slow. 



124 POEMS. 



XV. 

T 'VE seen a dying eye 

Run round and round a room 
In search of something, as it seemed, 
Then cloudier become ; 
And then, obscure with fog, 
And then be soldered down, 
Without disclosing what it be, 
'T were blessed to have seen. 



POEMS. 125 



XVI. 
REFUGE. 

HP HE clouds their backs together laid, 

The north begun to push, 
The forests galloped till they fell, 
The lightning skipped like mice ; 
The thunder crumbled like a stuff 
How good to be safe in tombs, 
Where nature's temper cannot reach, 
Nor vengeance ever comes ! 



126 POEMS, 



XVII. 

T NEVER saw a moor, 

* I never saw the sea ; 

Yet know I how the heather looks, 

And what a wave must be. 

I never spoke with God, 
Nor visited in heaven ; 
Yet certain am I of the spot 
As if the chart were given. 



POEMS. 127 



XVIII. 
PLAYMATES. 

OD permits industrious angels 

Afternoons to play. 
I met one, forgot my school-mates, 
All, for him, straightway. 

God calls home the angels promptly 
At the setting sun ; 

I missed mine. How dreary marbles, 
After playing Crown ! 



128 POEMS. 



XIX. 

HPO know just how he suffered would be dear; 

To know if any human eyes were near 
To whom he could intrust his wavering gaze, 
Until it settled firm on Paradise. 

To know if he was patient, part content, 
Was dying as he thought, or different ; 
Was it a pleasant day to die, 
And did the sunshine face his way? 

What was his furthest mind, of home, or God, 

Or what the distant say 

At news that he ceased human nature 

On such a day? 



POEMS. 129 

And wishes, had he any? 

Just his sigh, accented, 

Had been legible to me. 

And was he confident until 

111 fluttered out in everlasting well? 

And if he spoke, what name was best, 

What first, 

What one broke off with 

At the drowsiest? 

Was he afraid, or tranquil? 

Might he know 

How conscious consciousness could grow, 

Till love that was, and love too blest to be, 

Meet and the junction be Eternity ? 



13 POEMS. 



XX. 

'"THE last night that she lived, 

It was a common night, 
Except the dying ; this to us 
Made nature different. 

We noticed smallest things, 
Things overlooked before, 
By this great light upon our minds 
Italicized, as 't were. 

That others could exist 
While she must finish quite, 
A jealousy for her arose 
So nearly infinite. 

We waited while she passed ; 

It was a narrow time, 

Too jostled were our souls to speak, 

At length the notice came. 



POEMS, I3 1 

She mentioned, and forgot ; 
Then lightly as a reed 
Bent to the water, shivered scarce, 
Consented, and was dead. 

And we, we placed the hair, 
And drew the head erect ; 
And then an awful leisure was, 
Our faith to regulate. 



132 POEMS. 

XXI. 
THE FIRST LESSON. 

XT OT in this world to see his face 
* ^ Sounds long, until I read the place 
Where this is said to be 
But just the primer to a life 
Unopened, rare, upon the shelf, 
Clasped yet to him and me. 

And yet, my primer suits me so 
I would not choose a book to know 
Than that, be sweeter wise ; 
Might some one else so learned be, 
And leave me just my A B C, 
Himself could have the skies. 



POEMS. 133 



XXII. 

'T'HE bustle in a house 
* The morning after death 
Is solemnest of industries 
Enacted upon earth, 

The sweeping up the heart, 
And putting love away 
We shall not want to use again 
Until eternity. 



X 34 POEMS. 



XXIII. 

T REASON, earth is short, 
1 And anguish absolute, 
And many hurt ; 
But what of that? 

I reason, we could die : 
The best vitality 
Cannot excel decay ; 
But what of that ? 

I reason that in heaven 
Somehow, it will be even, 
Some new equation given ; 
But what of that ? 



POEMS. 135 



XXIV. 

A FRAID ? Of whom am I afraid ? 
'** Not death ; for who is he ? 

The porter of my father's lodge 
As much abasheth me. 

Of life ? T were odd I fear a thing 
That comprehendeth me 
In one or more existences 
At Deity's decree. 

Of resurrection ? Is the east 
Afraid to trust the morn 
With her fastidious forehead? 
As soon impeach my crown ! 



136 POEMS. 

XXV. 
DYING. 

HpHE sun kept setting, setting still ; 

No hue of afternoon 
Upon the village I perceived, 
From house to house 't was noon. 

The dusk kept dropping, dropping still ; 
No dew upon the grass, 
But only on my forehead stopped, 
And wandered in my face. 

My feet kept drowsing, drowsing still, 
My fingers were awake ; 
Yet why so little sound myself 
Unto my seeming make ? 

How well I knew the light before ! 
I could not see it now. 
'T is dying, I am doing ; but 
I 'm not afraid to know. 



POEMS. 137 



XXVI. 

/ ~PWO swimmers wrestled on the spar 
^ Until the morning sun, 
When one turned smiling to the land. 
O God, the other one ! 

The stray ships passing spied a face 
Upon the waters borne, 
With eyes in death still begging raised, 
And hands beseeching thrown. 



T 3 8 POEMS. 



XXVII. 
THE CHARIOT. 

T3ECAUSE I could not stop for Death, 
-*-^ He kindly stopped for me ; 
The carriage held but just ourselves 
And Immortality. 

We slowly drove, he knew no haste, 
And I had put away 
My labor, and my leisure too, 
For his civility. 

We passed the school where children played, 

Their lessons scarcely done ; 

We passed the fields of gazing grain, 

We passed the setting sun. 



POEMS. 139 

We paused before a house that seemed 
A swelling of the ground ; 
The roof was scarcely visible, 
The cornice but a mound. 

Since then 't is centuries ; but each 
Feels shorter than the day 
I first surmised the horses' heads 
Were toward eternity. 



140 POEMS 



XXVIII. 

SHE went as quiet as the dew 
From a familiar flower. 
Not like the dew did she return 
At the accustomed hour ! 

She dropt as softly as a star 
From out my summer's eve ; 
Less skilful than Leverrier 
It 's sorer to believe ! 



POEMS. I4 1 



XXIX. 
RESURGAM. 

A T last to be identified ! 
**' At last, the lamps upon thy side, 
The rest of life to see ! 
Past midnight, past the morning star ! 
Past sunrise ! Ah ! what leagues there are 
Between our feet and day ! 



142 POEMS. 



XXX. 

T^XCEPT to heaven, she is nought ; 
*'* Except for angels, lone ; 
Except to some wide-wandering bee, 
A flower superfluous blown ; 

Except for winds, provincial ; 
Except by butterflies, 
Unnoticed as a single dew 
That on the acre lies. 

The smallest housewife in the grass, 
Yet take her from the lawn, 
And somebody has lost the face 
That made existence home ! 



POEMS. 143 



XXXI. 

EATH is a dialogue between 

The spirit and the dust, 
" Dissolve," says Death, The Spirit, " Sir, 
I have another trust." 

Death doubts it, argues from the ground. 
The Spirit turns away, 
Just laying off, for evidence, 
An overcoat of clay. 



POEMS, 



XXXII. 

T T was too late for man, 
* But early yet for God ; 
Creation impotent to help, 
But prayer remained our side, 

How excellent the heaven, 
When earth cannot be had ; 
How hospitable, then, the face 
Of our old neighbor, God ! 



POEMS. US 

XXXIII. 
ALONG THE POTOMAC. 

T \ 7 HEN I was small, a woman died. 
^ * To-day her only boy 
Went up from the Potomac, 
His face all victory, 

To look at her ; how slowly 
The seasons must have turned 
Till bullets dipt an angle, 
And he passed quickly round ! 

If pride shall be in Paradise 
I never can decide ; 
Of their imperial conduct, 
No person testified. 

But proud in apparition, 

That woman and her boy 

Pass back and forth before my brain, 

As ever in the sky. 

10 



146 POEMS. 



XXXIV. 

'"PHE daisy follows soft the sun, 

And when his golden walk is done, 

Sits shyly at his feet. 
He, waking, finds the flower near. 
" Wherefore, marauder, art thou here ? 

" Because, sir, love is sweet ! " 

We are the flower, Thou the sun ! 
Forgive us, if as days decline, 

We nearer steal to Thee, 
Enamoured of the parting west, 
The peace, the flight, the amethyst, 

Night's possibility ! 



POEMS, 147 

XXXV. 
EMANCIPATION. 

TVT O rack can torture me, 

^ My soul 's at liberty. 
Behind this mortal bone 
There knits a bolder one 

You cannot prick with saw, 
Nor rend with scymitan 
Two bodies therefore be ; 
Bind one, and one will flee. 

The eagle of his nest 
No easier divest 
And gain the sky, 
Than mayest thou, 

Except thyself may be 
Thine enemy ; 
Captivity is consciousness, 
So 's liberty. 



POEMS 



XXXVI. 

LOST. 

T LOST a world the other day. 

Has anybody found ? 
You '11 know it by the row of stars 
Around its forehead bound. 

A rich man might not notice it ; 
Yet to my frugal eye 
Of more esteem than ducats. 
Oh, find it, sir, for me ! 



POEMS, 149 



XXXVII. 

T F I should n't be alive 
A When the robins come, 
Give the one in red cravat 
A memorial crumb. 

If I could n't thank you, 
Being just asleep, 
You will know I 'm trying 
With my granite lip ! 



150 POEMS- 



XXXVIII. 

OLEEP is supposed to be, 
w -' By souls of sanity, 
The shutting of the eye. 

Sleep is the station grand 
Down which on either hand 
The hosts of witness stand ! 

Morn is supposed to be, 
By people of degree, 
The breaking of the day. 

Morning has not occurred ! 
That shall aurora be 
East of eternity ; 

One with the banner gay, 
One in the red array, 
That is the break of day. 



POEMS. 



XXXIX 

T SHALL know why, when time is over, 
-* And I have ceased to wonder why ; 
Christ will explain each separate anguish 
In the fair schoolroom of the sky. 

He will tell me what Peter promised, 
And I, for wonder at his woe, 
I shall forget the drop of anguish 
That scalds me now, that scalds me now. 



152 POEMS. 



XL. 

T NEVER lost as much but twice, 
"" And that was in the sod ; 
Twice have I stood a beggar 
Before the door of God ! 

Angels, twice descending, 
Reimbursed my store. 
Burglar, banker, father, 
I am poor once more ! 



181